Archdiocese, Regis University partner to enrich growing Hispanic ministry at parishes

First Catholic Hispanic Leadership Program under way

Catholic Hispanic ministry workers gathering at Regis University for 10 days to learn how to better serve their communities hope that knowledge will strengthen their ministries and the parishes they serve.

The Catholic Hispanic Leadership Program, which kicked off July 22 and is co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver and the university, covers leadership, faith and culture. Participants, many who are volunteers, will hear from experts on a number of topics, including finances, nonprofit management and decision making.Tom Reynolds, left, vice president for mission and ministry for Regis University, and Luis Soto, executive director of the Denver Archdiocese's Centro San Juan Diego.

“The leadership program is a way to help people serving at the parish level,” said Luis Soto, executive director of Centro San Juan Diego, the Hispanic ministry center for the archdiocese. “The people participating are saying they want to do more; they want to learn more. They are hungry to learn.”

The inaugural year attracted 19 participants primarily from parishes in the archdiocese but three traveled from out of state, including a priest from Kansas City, a nun from Baltimore and a Hispanic ministry leader from Pennsylvania. A majority of the participants themselves have emigrated from Mexico, Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic.

“As immigrants, we grew up in Latin America experiencing the Catholic Church there and it is different from the American Catholic Church,” Soto said. “I had to learn those differences firsthand because no one told me.”

One session includes how Hispanic ministries can improve fundraising. Many Hispanic parishioners will readily volunteer for manual labor, such as replacing a church’s roof, but giving monetary contributions is unfamiliar to many immigrants who came from poor countries, Soto said.

“Parishes don’t need to continue to make 1,000 tamales (for fundraisers) when there are many other ways to make money,” Soto said.

The group also plans to discuss the nuances of American politics and the emotional debate over immigration laws.

“I see this as a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of Hispanic ministry,” said participant Cynthia Castillo, director of religious education for Holy Rosary Parish in north Denver. “As leaders, we have a great responsibility for training.”

Castillo has spent the last four years building up trust with the Hispanic community and has seen more young members receive the sacraments of holy Communion and confirmation at the parish originally founded by Slavic immigrants.

“It’s been a huge challenge and so important,” she said.

Martha Jones, a Hispanic ministry leader at St. Pius X Parish in Aurora, said she looks forward to hearing experts give tips on helping her ministry grow.

“We can help our community if we better understand techniques for budgeting, fundraisers and other topics,” she said.

Regis University saw the leadership program as a good partnership with the archdiocese, said Tom Reynolds, university vice president for mission and ministry.

“Hispanics have an important role in the Catholic Church and the future of the Church,” said Reynolds, who welcomed the participants following Mass on July 22.

“We are honored and blessed to have you here,” he said.







COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.